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What Chickens Can Eat, And What They Can’t

>2 August 2009
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what chickens can eat

When we first got chickens, I was told that they would be thrilled to eat our table scraps. But I wasn’t really sure what chickens could eat, or what they would like and dislike. Then I found a great list at Backyardchickens.com, which tells you everything that is safe to feed your chickens, and what you should never give them. I was glad to learn that our flock could eat almost anything we had to throw at them! Here’s what the experts recommend…

Safe Food For Chickens:

  • Apples
  • Peeled Bananas
  • Cooked Beans (though I read this can make the eggs taste funny.)
  • Beets
  • Berries
  • Breads
  • Broccoli
  • Cauliflower
  • Cabbage
  • Brussel Sprouts
  • Carrots
  • Cereal (not a sugary kind)
  • Cheese (including cottage cheese, not too much though)
  • Cooked meat, including chicken
  • Corn
  • Cucumbers
  • Cooked Eggs
  • Eggplant
  • Fish/Seafood
  • Fruit
  • Grains
  • Seedless Grapes
  • Cooked Grits
  • Lettuce and other Leafy Greens
  • Melon
  • Oatmeal (raw or cooked)
  • Cooked Pasta
  • Peas
  • Peppers
  • Pomegranates
  • Popped Popcorn (no butter or salt)
  • Cooked Potatoes (no green skins!)
  • Pumpkins
  • Squash
  • Raisins
  • Cooked Rice
  • Sunflower Seeds
  • Tomatoes
  • Cooked Turnips
  • Watermelon
  • Yogurt (plain is best)
  • Milk (sour or curdled is fine)

Do NOT feed your chickens:

  • Raw potato peel
  • Citrus (very little is okay, but go easy on it)
  • Dried or undercooked beans
  • Avocado skin or pit
  • Raw eggs (encourages them to eat their own eggs)
  • Sugary stuff
  • Really salty stuff
  • Rotten or moldy food

You can string up larger pieces of food (like a head of cabbage) for the chickens to peck at for fun, or you can put them in a wire container that they can peck the food through. Alternatively, you can also throw scraps into a large tray or bowl, or container of some sort. Whatever you do, it’s best to try to keep the food off of the ground to keep it out of manure.

Feeding your chickens table scraps is a great way to save a little money on feed, and your chickens will go crazy for your leftovers!

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5 Comments »

  • Jessica said:

    Ok Kendra, after reading your post, I thought, ooohhhhh a chicken eating chicken? Canabalism!! Well, I made roasted chicken tonight for dinner and after taking most of the extra meat off for another meal, giving the skins and innards to the outside dog for a treat, I still had a little bit of meat left in areas that I didnt feel I would eat (I am very picky about how the meat looks…strange, I know. I picked off that meat and stuck the rest of the carcass in a pot to make stock. I gave a small amount to the outside cat and to the inside dog and thought about the chickens. Well, let me tell you, they LOVED it. They actually fought for it. I put in a piece and two fought after it and one got it. I put in another piece and the first abandoned her piece (which allowed the second to grab it)to get this new piece. A third hen came out to the run and saw the commotion and tried to get some of the other two hen’s treats and got pecked. I threw in a third piece and the three fought and the first one won again. A fourth piece got thrown in and the third hen wasnt about to lose this time and grabbed it from one of the other’s beak and ran off with it. The fourth hen stayed in the coop and missed out on the yummy treat. It was great entertainment for about five minutes!

  • Kendra at New Life On A Homestead (author) said:

    Jessica-

    That’s too funny!!

  • Deanna said:

    My chickens love beans. I have never noticed that it changes the taste in eggs. They have a great game of chicken football when they get them. Quite entertaining!

  • Anonymous said:

    can chickens eat uncooked quick cooking grits?

  • Kendra at New Life On A Homestead (author) said:

    Anonymous, I don’t see why not. It’s a grain. :)

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